Another “Half a Loaf”

i December 13, 2012

Colorado Springs is the county seat of El Paso County, Colorado. The county is the most populous of the 64 counties in the state.

Recently, by a 3-2 vote of the county commissioners, the following law was adopted: “It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, trade, barter, lease, rent, give away, or display for any purpose a pet animal on any public street, road, highway, alley, sidewalk, or any other public place, or in open areas where the public is invited by the owner or person controlling such areas, including commercial parking lots, outdoor special sales, sap [sic] meets, flea markets, parking lot sales, or similar events.”

Violation can result in a fine.

ISAR certainly approves of the law’s intention, and has long disapproved of, and fought against, so-called “roadside sales” of companion animals.

That said, however, the El Paso County law raises once again the problem we have addressed in the past: “Half a loaf.” (Half a LoafHalf a Loaf, Revisited and The “Half a Loaf” Problem Rises Again)

While Section (a) of the law, quoted above, could have been better drafted, it would probably get the job done standing alone.

The problem is that it doesn’t stand alone. Section (b) is shot through with exceptions which take much of the punch out of Section (a).

Section (b) does not apply to:
1. Agents of state licensed pet stores.
2. Events for the sale of agricultural livestock.
3. Shelters.
4. Sales of pet animals on private property who have the owner’s permission.

Cumulatively, these exceptions allow for many animals to be sold at the “roadside,” gutting to a considerable extent the intent and express language of Section (a).

Although ISAR has long approved of, and fought for, mandatory spay/neuter laws, several years ago we opposed one introduced into the California legislature because it, too, was gutted by exceptions (Mandatory Spay/Neuter Beat Goes On.)  We believed that its enactment would have allowed the opponents of mandatory spay/neuter to resist further, proper legislation on the ground that the pro-mandatory spay/neuter forces had already received enough and that no further laws were necessary or appropriate.

Since the El Paso law was narrowly passed on a 3-2 vote of the county commissioners, it is unlikely that a tougher law without some or all of the Section (b) exceptions would have been enacted. So the majority obviously accepted the exceptions.

In other words, they accepted “half a loaf.”

In ISAR’s view, that is not “better than none.”